Updated September 1st: article originally posted August 30th.
The upcoming Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro handsets will help define what it means to be an Android smartphone. Each Pixel has helped amplify Google’s thoughts on what works for the community. Naturally, a lot of attention is being paid to offering the community what it needs and what is being taken away.
Update: Thursday August 31st: While Google is looking to offer more software updates to the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro handsets, it’s also confirmed some disappointing news for previous Pixel owners looking for an upgrade to the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro; Google is cancelling Pixel Pass.
This was announced alongside the launch of the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. For a monthly subscription, those signed up got the new Pixel handset and a discounted rate on Google’s bundled services. It also offered a phone upgrade after two years.
Those looking for that upgrade can, according to Google, “can purchase or finance your next Pixel device directly from Google Store or Google Fi Wireless, and you have the option to trade-in your current Pixel device towards your next device. Current Pixel Pass subscribers received $100 towards their next Pixel purchase…”
While a discounted rate for Google One, Play Pass, and YouTube Premium will be grandfathered in, users will not be able to sign up or renew the Pixel Pass.
Update: Friday September 1st: And in all of this, its important to note down probably the most important news, at least for the marketing team. The Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro are going to come in a brand new color.
Eagle-eyed Pixel Store watchers picked out a new design of Pixel in the digital shelves. With the ‘8’ models widely expected to arrive on October 4th, it’s an easy call to make that this was one of the new handsets. As for the color, Google, like many manufacturers, has been introducing a new colour each year so if that pattern holds then we are due something different for the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro.
And It’s clearly going to be porcelain… the handy Alt Text for the image reads: “A person takes a call on a Pixel 8 Pro phone in Porcelain.”
The wider smartphone community is looking for longevity in their phones. With the Pixel handsets, Google has been extending the support window for Android and platform security updates. While there is nothing to stop users from continuing to use their smartphones after updates cease, it is strongly discouraged.
This an issue when you have premium handsets offering just two years of Android support. According to the latest reports, Google is leading by example. The Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro are expected to ship with at least five years of Android OS updates alongside the relevant security updates.
That would set the Pixel up as one of the longest-supported Android handsets on the market. The closest would be Samsung, which has offered four years for the latest Galaxy S23 family of handsets.
Of course, one other manufacturer will want to enter this conversation. While Apple has not offered any concrete update guarantees over the years, you have four- and five-year-old iPhones picking up iOS updates, and security updates are still being rolled out for the likes of the iPhone 6S some eight years after its launch.
Unlike many Android manufacturers, Apple has almost complete control over its hardware, especially the Axx Apple Silicon chipsets. This makes it easier to continue developing for older hardware; the logjam of waiting for the chip designer to provide updates doesn’t come into it when you designed the chipset yourself …which is something Google can match thanks to its in-house designed Mobile Tensor chipsets.
With the community looking for more updates and upgrades to allow them to use their smartphones safely for longer, Google is delivering the necessary software alongside the new hardware.
Now read how Google is planning to remove the SIM card from your next Pixel…